If you want proof we’re living in a golden age of conspiracy theories, the latest offering of fake news doing the rounds among hard-right Trump supporters is really pushing the envelope.
On social media networks such as Twitter, a significant number of posts are being hashtagged with the term #followthewhiterabbit – some garnering thousands of shares.
It’s a line from the Lewis Carroll novel ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and references a belief that there are hidden truths being concealed by a global elite heavily involved in a paedophile network – which Donald Trump is trying to bring to justice.
Most recently, it was invoked when the US President struggled to drink Fiji water recently. He was, according to the white rabbit theory at least, sending a secret signal to his faithful followers.
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It originated on sites such as 4Chan, and is loosely based on ‘revelations’ from a supposed ‘Q-level’ insider in Donald Trump’s team.
The very fact that people are sharing this stuff is evidence that we are living in very, very strange times indeed.
But the more serious point is that, according to research conducted in August this year, 67 per cent of Americans say they get some of their news on social media – with two out of 10 reporting that they do so very often.
In 2015, Italian researchers analysed just how gullible social media users were by planting fake news and seeing just how far it travelled.
They found that conspiracy articles were far more likely to attract comments, likes and shares that fact-based content.
And these theories have real life consequences, too. In December 2016, a man opened fire on a pizza restaurant in Washington DC because he falsely thought it was the epicentre of a child sex ring linked to Hillary Clinton.
Those bogus claims had been widely spread on social media under the hashtag #PizzaGate – a conspiracy theory which has now been incorporated into the #followthewhiterabbit conspiracy.
So if #followthewhiterabbit is the latest conspiracy theory to go viral, here are some of the strange things its fans seem to genuinely believe.
Trump was sending a secret signal to his followers when he struggled to drink Fiji water
Followers of the theory believe that Trump was sending a secret signal to his followers when he struggled to drink a bottle of Fiji water.
Fiji, you see, is a source for the child-sex industry, according to believers, and Trump took power specifically to take on an elite conspiracy of paedophiles involving Clinton, the Rothschilds and other classic conspiracy targets.
There is no evidence for any of this, obviously.
Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Chelsea Clinton are already wearing ankle tags
Believers in the conspiracy think that President Trump is days away from arresting hundreds of supposed ‘elite paedophiles’ who have been drugging and raping children.
The evidence? John McCain, Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton have been pictured wearing ankle boots, which #followthewhiterabbit believers think hide electronic tags.
Elite paedophiles are killing and eating children
It all seems to be linked to the – baseless – Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which led a young man to storm a restaurant with a gun to ‘free’ children he thought were being held there.
This time, however, the ‘elites’ also seem to be drinking children’s blood and sacrificing them to Satan.
And, no, Keanu Reeves didn’t say that Hollywood elites use the blood of babies to get high.
A mysterious guy called ‘Q’ is blowing the lid on the conspiracy
A supposed government insider known as ‘Q’ has made a series of highly cryptic posts on 4Chan, referring to an enormous conspiracy (or conspiracies) involving the Rothschilds, George Soros and the Clintons.
Some of his posts have seemed eerily close to real-world events, lending his/her babblings a credibility (at least in the world of online conspiracy theories).
Fans claim he’s an insider in Trump’s court, with the ‘evidence’ a photo which appears to have been taken from Air Force One.
In reality, there’s no proof that he’s an insider, and most of what he/she has said is nonsense.
Donald Trump has been sending coded messages about it since 2012
Believers think that Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been offering coded messages about a conspiracy since 2012.
For instance, there’s a message about an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ party, which is somehow supposed to refer to a paedophile conspiracy in Washington.
The Rothschilds are involved
The Rothschild family are a repeated theme in the conspiracy (in fact, the Rothchilds crop in many conspiracy theories) – with a recent helicopter crash near their estate somehow a sign about #followthewhiterabbit.
Others claim that they have a secret island in Antarctica and trying to extract a (fictional) drug from the dead bodies of children.
There is, obviously, no evidence for this.
Oh, and the Las Vegas shooting is part of it
The conspiracy is so all-encompassing that believers also claim that the Las Vegas shooting was set up by a Saudi Prince, who is somehow involved.
There’s no evidence whatsoever for any of this – and it is so breathtakingly bonkers it really is an eye-opener as to what people will believe.